Superstitious Christian Worker Sues Because Workplace Made Him Wear a ’666′ Sticker

How much should an employer have to budge when it comes to respecting a worker’s religious beliefs?

Whatever the answer is, this story gets out of hand from both directions.

Pliant Corp. has its workers wear stickers showing how many days it’s been since the last accident. One day, it approached Day 666…

You can figure out where this is going:

[Billy E. Hyatt] grew nervous in early 2009 as the number of accident-free days crept into the 600s. As the company’s safety calendar approached day 666, Hyatt said he approached a manager and explained that wearing it would force him “to accept the mark of the beast and to be condemned to hell.” He said the manager assured him he wouldn’t have to wear the number.

When the day came on March 12, 2009, Hyatt sought a manager to discuss his request. He said he was told that his beliefs were “ridiculous” and that he should wear the sticker or serve a three-day suspension.

Alright, we’ll get the obvious out of the way. Hyatt’s superstitions have no business in the workplace. No one’s asking him to renounce his beliefs or endorse “the beast.” They’re asking him to wear a sticker like everyone else has to. And he’s refusing because he thinks the Baby Jesus will cry if he does that. You want evidence of his inability to think rationally? There you go.

At the same time, did he deserve to be fired over it? Nope. It’s a goddamn sticker, not safety goggles and a helmet. What would’ve happened if he didn’t wear it? Nothing. Hell, depending on the size of the sticker, most people probably wouldn’t have noticed.

Suzanne Lucas at CBS News puts it all in perspective:

As a manager, you may have an employee make requests that seem ridiculous. Before you shout, “I’m the boss!” and “because I said so!” stop and think, “what’s the worst thing that can happen here?” because if it’s a very strange request, or an inconsequential one, the worst from saying no may be worse than the worst from saying yes.

This isn’t about religious, per se. It’s about a simple request that became overblown.

The company has every right to fire employees who don’t adhere to particular rules — or follow a required dress code. But to force compliance for something so inconsequential? It’s petty and unnecessary.

Hyatt’s now suing over this:

Hyatt took the three-day suspension, and was fired at a human resources meeting several days later. He then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and his attorney Stephen Mixon said the agency granted him the right to sue the company in August.

The lawsuit, which seeks punitive damages and back pay, said the company forced him into a terrible situation: Keep his job or “abandon his religious beliefs.”

The company, now known as Berry Plastics Corp., did not return several calls and emails seeking comment. It has yet to respond to the complaint in court.

That’s why he’s going to lose this case. This was never about Hyatt’s delusional beliefs. No one was asking him to stop being a Christian for a day. They just asked him to wear a sticker. But Hyatt wrongly attached supernatural significance to it.

He doesn’t need to go to court; he needs to see a psychiatrist.

(Thanks to Garrison for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • treedweller

    Team Christian here. What if a private company required employees to wear a sticker that said “I was created by God to help you” for a day? Or maybe “God told me Darwin was wrong.” It’s just a silly, superstitious sticker, but antithetical to what you believe. Would you wear it?

    I’m a former believer, and when you believe, it’s a faith thing, not  proof thing, as we all well know. And, to a believer, taking the mark of the beast is a Very Big Deal. So we might not agree, but that doesn’t mean we should force someone to do something completely against their belief system.

    Wait, the more I think about it, this person is overreacting crazily. If the company required “666″ tattoos to commemorate the day, I’d be Team Christian. As it stands, it’s a temporary, innocuous reminder of safety and no more likely to offend God than a Hello Kitty sticker. Get over it.

    • Marnie MacLean

      While I do not think he should have been fired for something so benign, I don’t think your example quite applies because it wasn’t a different arbitrary rule applied for a day to support a particular belief system it was a standard practice for which an individual had an aversion to a particular number for religious reasons. It would have been just as silly if he didn’t want to wear “13″ because it’s bad luck or “69″ because it’s naughty or “314″ because pi is irrational. 

      • Anonymous

        Attaching superstitious significance to numbers is extremely common in some Asian countries. Much more so than in the west. And the reason is cultural, not religious. I wonder what the legal situation is like there about things like this

      • Free2play03

        Whether something is standard practice or not is irrelevant in this matter. As a labor lawyer I’ve had my share of religious discrimination cases. To show that an employee has had their rights violated under the religious accommodation rules they must show that: 
        1. They have a bona fide religious belief that conflicts with an employment requirement. 2. The employer was made aware of the conflict. 3. They were subjected to an adverse action (such as dismissal) for not complying with the employment requirement.

        Assuming that all the facts are presented here in this article then the case will be an easy one for this employee.

        It will be up to the employer to show that:

        1. They offered a reasonable accommodation OR

        2. After a good faith effort, no accommodation that did not cause an undue hardship could be found

        I find it hard to see how a judge will find that not wearing a sticker is placing undue hardship on the employer. 

        • Marnie MacLean

          I was specifically addressing treedweller’s analogy of making employees wear a religiously significant badge for a day, not speaking to the employment laws. So your points are valid, but I was simply stating that his analogy doesn’t quite work. 

          • Free2play03

            my apologies, I misunderstood your post

    • Anonymous

      It’s a big deal to some believers. Hardly all Christians take that stuff so seriously.

      I think the situation is ridiculous because wearing the sticker was hardly a requirement and didn’t serve a real purpose. The accident-free days could have been posted on a wall for example. But I wouldn’t make any blanket rules about things like this. Such issues can be resolved on a case by case basis

  • http://twitter.com/joeypreger Joey Preger

    Guess he didn’t he get the memo… The true number of the beast is actually 616.

    • Zoe

      I was going to make the same comment :)

  • Erik Cameron

    Do you think an anti theistic employer could use such techniques to oust religious people from their workplace? Say force them to wear a sticker honoring evolution or  modern medicine? Something that is not specifically anti-religious, but that certain religions might hate?

  • Free2play03

    While I think the guy is nuts for believing in that superstitious junk about the mark of the beast, employers have to (and should) make accommodations in regards to their employees religious (or non-religious) beliefs; especially when its in regard to something that is very inconsequential as wearing a sticker. My point is that no matter how crazy someone’s religious beliefs may be, the employer has to make reasonable accommodations for that person. It’s not the employers job to deduce how crazy or legit someone’s religious beliefs are. 

    • Parse

      If he was fired for other reasons (ie, not exclusively to his reaction to this incident), what (if anything) could the company say about this?  It’s my understanding that privacy laws would keep them from saying practically anything about the lawsuit, but I’m just a slightly-more-informed-than-average citizen, and not a labor lawyer like yourself.

  • ed-words

    I think we should accept the apology of the Gelato guy,
    on the other hand . . .

    • ed-words

      That’s OVER, stupid!

  • Pustulio

    It seems to me like he could have avoided the whole incident simply by causing an accident thus resetting the counter and putting it off for another two years.

    • Anonymous

      You win the thread

    • Wolf Revels

      Preferably an accident that removes his (obviously useless) head. Not someone else s

  • Free2play03

    Actually the employee could have this case in his favor. If you look at Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of l964, the employer “must reasonably accommodate employees’ sincerely held religious practices unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer.”  Not wearing said sticker does not impose an undue hardship on the employer. Case closed.

  • Matt R

    This was also posted over on Slashdot, and someone there proposed a simply solution:  all he needed to do was have an “accident” the week before. :)

    Anyway, I think it’s very likely he will win his case (or, rather, it’ll settle ahead of time) assuming the facts as we’re getting them are correct.  Not a lawyer, but I’ve been through diversity training as a manager and from what I learned there the business should’ve accomodated him if only to avoid ending up where they are now.

    -Matt

  • Parse

    I’m the first to admit that I don’t know much about scheduling in factories, or how vacation time works for them.  But if I were in his shoes, and thought that this was that critical to me and my salvation, I’d ask to take a personal/vacation day.  Even if I was exempted from bearing The Mark Of The Beast, I’d still be spending an entire day around people who chose to wear it, and I can’t imagine that being good for your soul.

    That being said, this shouldn’t a firing offense, and if that’s the only strike against Mr. Hyatt, then Pliant Corp. deserves the lawsuit it’s facing.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Reed/692599362 Paul Reed

    On the one hand, you want to accomodate legitimate requests to be excused. On the other, you need to maintain control of your employees.
    Rather than a three-day suspension, I’d probably have been tempted to offer him that one day off as unpaid leave.

    • Free2play03

      Let’s assume that this is the whole story. The employer should’ve made a good faith, reasonable attempt to accomodate his employee. Not wearing a sticker like this has nothing to do with controlling employees. The employee is well within his rights to expect the employer to accomodate his beliefs by refusing to wear said sticker.  Giving the employee a one day unpaid leave is considered an adverse action, an the employee could sue for that. 

  • Parse

    I wonder, though, what the rest of the story is, and what I do know about privacy laws, is that it’s unlikely that we’ll hear the company’s side of things unless (or until) this goes to court.  
    From the article:

    The company, now known as Berry Plastics Corp., did not return several calls and emails seeking comment. It has yet to respond to the complaint in court.

    Think about the Freshwater case – if you only heard Mr. Freshwater’s side of the story, you’d think that he was persecuted only for keeping a Bible on his desk.

  • ed-words

    Only in religion do the inmates pity the escapees!

    • Anonymous

      Brilliant. Love it.

    • Greisha

      Not only in religion, but in many ideologies.  For example, people in the former Soviet Union pitied “poor people living under capitalist oppression”, including their compatriots who managed to escape from iron curtain.

      • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

        Good point. Remove “only” and “do”.

  • Annaigaw

    It seems a bit fantastic that someone would get fired for not wearing a sticker. Maybe there are other reasons or he was on a probationary status. If all he was fired for was refusing to wear a sticker for religious reasons he clearly has a case. But, is that really all he was fired for?

    • bigjohn756

      He was probably fired because the company didn’t want anyone that stupid working for them.

  • Trickster Goddess

    He could have avoided damnation if he just wore the sticker upside down.

    • ed-words

      That would make him a Herman Cain supporter (999).

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    I was watching this on CNN just a little bit ago and got pretty pissed at how they covered it. The guy they had on there to talk to about it was acting like this guy has a good case and the company was firing him based on his religious beliefs. Even dared to make the ridiculous argument that if this was about him wanting to go to work wearing a leopard print g-string as part of his religious beliefs it would be different, but because this is a bonafide religious belief, it’s got merit. Of course, no voice or reasonable opposition is made. I’m willing to bet this sticker incident isn’t the only thing that was wrong with him. He’s probably just taking advantage of the fact that the company has a policy against publicly discussing legal matters before they’ve gone to court.

    This had nothing to do with his religious beliefs. He made it about that all on his own. Like Hemant said, the company wasn’t asking him to abandon his religion. He’s purposely taking things completely out of context. Not that I’d expect more from someone this crazy.

    • Free2play03

      I’m of the opinion that he does have a really good case. Of course assuming that these are all the facts and that the employee wasn’t fired for anything else, this is a violation of the law. I’m going to repost what  I wrote earlier: 

      To show that an employee has had their rights violated under the religious accommodation rules they must show that: 1. They have a bona fide religious belief that conflicts with an employment requirement. 2. The employer was made aware of the conflict. 3. They were subjected to an adverse action (such as dismissal) for not complying with the employment requirement.Assuming that all the facts are presented here in this article then the case will be an easy one for this employee.It will be up to the employer to show that:1. They offered a reasonable accommodation OR2. After a good faith effort, no accommodation that did not cause an undue hardship could be foundI find it hard to see how a judge will find that not wearing a sticker is placing undue hardship on the employer.

    • Free2play03

      From a legal standpoint, if the reason he was fired or suspended was because of his refusal to wear the sticker then the employee has this won. 

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

        Except that, you know, HE DOESN’T HAVE A CASE.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, I have a hard time buying that this is a “bonafide belief”. Believing in biblical numerology is usually not necessary a requirement to be a Christian.

      He should and could have easily been accommodated, but I’d have more sympathy with a Jew wanting to wear a kippa for example, or someone wanting to follow their dietary requirements

      • Free2play03

        You’re misusing the word “bona fide”. In legal terms Bona Fide means in Good faith; without fraud or deceit. So yes, his belief would fall under that.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

          No it wouldn’t — I wouldn’t put it past the stupid faith-head to make a stink over this for the express purpose of gaining Persecution Points.

  • Semipermeable

    Seems like a bit of a waste to print up a whole batch of new stickers every day (for 666 days, wonder how much that cost), but I assume that’s a separate matter. 

    Yes, the Christian’s belief is objectively silly, but then I don’t even know where the 666/devil association stems from. I’ve only seen it referenced at rock, punk and metal concerts as superficial rebellion. 
    It is even more silly to fire someone over a sticker, especially in this economic climate. Unless there are factors that have not surfaced yet, I would have to come down in support of the employee. 

  • Wolf Revels

    The whole idea that businesses, government, and individuals “Have” to accommodate  ANYONES mythologies is ridiculous. Anyone who brings their silly superstitions to  the workplace should be fired. Especially politicians, and bosses. Even if you believe in one(religion) yourself? Even the dumbest of people can recognize that not all in your workplace will believe as you do and introducing the subject into the workplace is going to cause discomfort and issues. If you cant keep your beliefs at home? You need to friggin stay there.

    • Free2play03

      I hate authoritarians who not only tell people what to belief but also what not to belief. You should familiarize yourself with the Civil Rights Act of 64.  

      • Free2play03

        *believe

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Roy-Gamsgrø/100000677601467 Roy Gamsgrø

        Hmm… Really?
        Could you point me to where Wolf told anyone to believe or not believe?
        The only thing I read was that you shouldn’t force your beliefs unto anyone else, which I wholeheartedly agree to.

        • Free2play03

          “The whole idea that businesses, government, and individuals “Have” to accommodate  ANYONES mythologies is ridiculous”
          They may be mythologies to me and you but that doesn’t mean that individuals have to be forced to compromise their individually held convictions if they aren’t harming others. If the government tried to outlaw kippas, just as an example, I would be against it. Does freedom of expression not count anymore? Who are you, or anyone else for that matter, to tell someone “no you cannot wear your religious hat in here”. 

          • ed-words

            Right. As long as it doesn’t infringe on others.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

              And in this case, he was clearly forcing his beliefs on his employer.

              • ed-words

                Sticker, schmicker!

    • Anonymous

      It you want to throw out part of the first amendment, then you have to throw out the whole thing.

      I, for one, am not giving up my right to call his beliefs ridiculous.

      As yourself if you would have a different reaction if it had been a gold star (something we use even in kindergarden) and the person had been a jew.

    • Anonymous

      OH, I just love the idea of giving corporations MORE power over our lives! /sarcasm

      They can already drug test and fire people for stuff they do when not even on company property and time.

      • Demonhype

        THANK YOU!  I am so tired of the people who think that “private employer” means “feudal lord who may control your private affairs’, and how that somehow also turns “hiring you to do a simple job” into “purchasing your flesh as corporate property”.  You want intimate bodily fluids from me so your scam artist uromancers can try to divine what I may or may not do on my own private time in my own private home with my own private body?  You’d better have a damn good reason, and “I want to because in my opinion I bought you fair and square” is not a good reason unless you’re one of those “private employers own your ass” morons.

        Drug testing will die out.   The facts are coming out more and more, and more people are beginning to fight it.  The bullshit data is coming to light and the ignorant moral panic that also drives the bullshit failed drug war is dying down, and those who profit from both are running scared.

  • Edmond

    I have no idea how the legal logistics of this will work out, and I think I support the idea that Hyatt should not have been fired over this, but I do agree that any Christian who makes a big deal out of this is just plan ridiculous.  This is a NUMBER.  It comes in sequence with OTHER numbers, between 665 and 667.  If you’re going to count that high, it becomes NECESSARY to use that number.  Should the very function of COUNTING THINGS be sabotaged so that your superstitions can be assuaged?  Did god intend for counting to 700 to be a torturous ordeal, or a test of faith?  How do you function in normal life when you allow this kind of thing to be an obstacle?

    Years ago I worked for Subway sandwiches, and I had a semi-regular customer for a while, a woman who would come in and order a roast beef footlong and a drink (and maybe something else, I forget).  With tax, it came up to $6.66.  She would inevitably tell me to add something else to her order, and when I asked what she liked (it wasn’t my job to think of irrational add-ons for her) she would become exasperated, saying it didn’t matter, just anything.  It was clear she just wanted to avoid the price coming up on the register.  This happened several times, and eventually you wonder why she didn’t begin to anticipate it and change her order, if it was so important to her.  You start to wonder what OTHER places in life people like this have problems.

    In everything you do, if you keep at it long enough, you will get to a 666th iteration of it.  Do Christians scratch that number out of their pedometers?  Do Christian TV shows get freaked out when they get to their 666th episodes?  No matter how much you try to avoid or remove concious appearances of the number, there are millions of appearances that you know nothing about.  If you can accept that, and understand that all those unseen 666′s have no power over you, then you’ll realize that it NEVER has any power except what YOU give it.  And Christians who focus on this only give it the power to make themselves look completely silly.

    • Anonymous

      Hotels usually omit “unlucky” numbers like 13, by the way. It’s very common. Even more so in Asian countries where such beliefs are far more widespread

    • Alantas

      I have a copy of the Bible which goes over 1200 pages. They deal with page 666 by… using it like any other number, without comment, thereby depriving it of its power.

  • Lorie Poulson

    I find it hard to understand why any company employs managers that are this ignorant. Most companies require a college course in Business Law and  Human Resource Management before hiring a manager or promoting anyone within the company to managerial status. This problem could have been handled in any number of different ways, other than how this claimant is stating it went down. Employers  have a responsibility to hire competent managers but on the flip side of that coin, the claimant could have exercised  other possibilities/options if he’d only used some common sense. But he is a theist factory worker and that says a great deal about his inability to reason properly. 

  • Celeste Morgan

    I used to work in a technical support department and we were required to provide our employee number to customers at the beginning of each call. My number was 66666. Some of the reactions I would get when I said that were hilarious. My favorite: “OH MY GOODNESS! You should get them to change that. Something bad is going to happen to you!”

  • Anonymous

    well he’s likely to get something out of it just because in our courts, it seems that the whiners win. in my area, years ago, a family managed to get their house number changed from 666 to (get this!) 6661/2! not making that up! xtians are so ridiculous! its just a number! sheesh.

  • Charles Black

    Wow this person is a complete idiot if you ask me. This “mark of the beast” bulls**t was meant to refer to Roman currency back in the C1st C.E not in the modern day. Its amazing how stupid some people can be.

  • http://www.suburbansweetheart.com/ Suburban Sweetheart

    I guess he could’ve gotten around it by causing an accident…

  • Ms. Crazy Pants

    I’m going to have to agree with Free2play03.  I really think this is going to be an open/shut case with the employer losing.   The employee gave the employer advanced notice.  If a sticker is required, they could have given him a blank sticker for a day, or a sticker that said 665 +1.   Being fearful of 666 is a commonly held Christian belief, and many take it very seriously. 

    • Anonymous

      Yep, 666 is serious business!  I grew up going to southern baptist churches and frequently heard people talk about the number appearing in their lives.  When I was a kid our telephone number had 666 in the middle of it and that was often a topic of conversation between my parents and others.  People wanted to know why my parents didn’t get the number changed.  They said that since there was a hyphen after the first 6 that it was OK (don’t ask, I don’t get xian logic).  Anyway, this guy should win the lawsuit.  Lots of xians see 666 as something very serious and not wearing a sticker or a modified one for one day is pretty reasonable accommodation.

      • Anonymous

        I think you greatly overestimate how common it is. Not all Christians are fundamentalist, American idiots. I get that you grew up with these people, so it’s what you know, but consider that that there over two billion Christians worldwide with sometimes radically different beliefs.

        • Anonymous

          Wait…so what exactly are the criteria for being a True Christian? 

          Fear of the number 666 may not be as widespread as other beliefs, but it’s by no means an uncommon belief in at least the Southern part of the US.

          For some real fun, look up the history of the barcode.  Plenty of folks saw that as a ‘mark of the beast’ and protested against them.

          • Anonymous

            One basic criteria would be the Nicene Creed. Everything else is optional. They are all true or false Christian for each other, but that isn’t the point.

            Some people act as if most Christians believe this nonsense, which simply isn’t true. Many probably have some knowledge of it, but I bet most of that is more through pop culture than through their church

            • Free2play03

              You’re still missing the point. Whether a particular belief is widespread or not is irrelevant. 

              • Anonymous

                No, it’s not. It may be hard to draw a line sometimes, but otherwise anyone could just make up any kind of bullshit and demand it to be accommodated – not matter how impractical. That can’t and won’t happen.

                This is a simply case because it could easily have been resolved, but people can’t be expected to give in to just any fringe belief

                • Free2play03

                  according to the law it is irrelevant. 

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                  Then according to the law, I can claim that my faith forbids me from working before noon…

                • Anonymous

                  Ah, but that wouldn’t cause an employer “de minis cost”, unless they could say “fine, then work 3rd shift.  See you at 10pm!

                • Demonhype

                  You’re right!  I remember some situation where some woman didn’t want to wear her bus driver hat because she felt she had to wear her scarf.  The employer looks at the bible and declares that, according to his own interpretation, her church was wrong and she would have to wear it or  be fired.  As if it is the employer’s “right” to define the details of an employees’ religious beliefs for them, which is complete bullshit.

  • Erp

    I will note the people changing the house number may have the purely mercenary reason of resale value (the number 666 might turn away potential buyers); they presumably bought the house knowing the number was 666.

    How would people react if instead of a sticker with the number, an employer required the workers to wear one day a year a sticker with a cross on it?    Perhaps to honor the birthday of the company founder, John Cross.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry, Hemant, you are very wrong on this.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is very specific about this.  The EEOC has a very long web page that explains it (http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/qanda_religion.html), but the telling part is right at the top:

    “denying a requested reasonable accommodation of an applicant’s or employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs or practices – or lack thereof – if an accommodation will not impose more than a de minimis cost or burden on business operations;”

    The company has to demonstrate that there was a measurable cost or burden to them that is directly attributable to accommodation of the request.

    I don’t see how it possibly hurt their business if the employee in question didn’t wear the sticker.

    As I said in another comment, I don’t want any part of the First Amendment watered down, weakened, or thrown out, because then it might affect the parts that are near and dear to me.  Even if I do think that religion is ridiculously delusional.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      It’s not a “reasonable” accommodation, though. It’s just a sticker. With a number on it. And the whiny Christ-stain is the only one making a big deal about it. He’s clearly a troublemaker, and this must have been the last straw for the employer.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Okafor/1759887752 Anthony Okafor

        Exactly. Dude is setting himself for a very embarrassing lawsuit. What in the world is reasonable about not wearing the sticker? Nothing lol

      • Anonymous

        The word reasonable, when used in context of the law here, is directly relative to the accommodation being requested.   It also relates to what impact and cost it will have on the employer.  This really costs the employer nothing, and there is no public face with uniforms or such (like a police department, or similar) that would change how the public sees the individual.

    • Travshad

      Why have you brought the First Amendment into this discussion?  If the company did anything wrong, it would be a violation of a stuatue, not the Constitution. The FIrst Amendment applies to the various levels of government, it does not apply to private employers or private citizens.  If this employee loses his case, the First Amendment will be a strong as it ever was.

      • Anonymous

        The Civil Rights Act has its Constitutional justification based on the 1st, 4th & 14th amendments, primarily.

        The establishment clause of the 1st amendment is the basis for the law which makes the request that this man made allowable.  Should a court rule that someone could be fired for not wearing a sticker for religious reasons, and should that ruling be upheld on appeals, it would weaken the first amendment.

        If such a challenge could so easily get by the establishment clause, that would cause me great distress as to the standing of the rest of that incredibly important amendment.

  • Gylesw

    I was raised in a cult and am now a hard-boiled atheist who loves fundie bating. Given that I find your stance illogical and unreasonable.

    First, what has the fact that some pick-ups have 666 on them got to do with this case? Is it his pick-up? If not it is irrelevant and a logical fallacy of the type that ‘we’ love to roast believers for.

    Second, as has been pointed out, he has the law on his side. That same law protects secular people as well, and even if ‘we’ think his beliefs are silly he should have that same protection.

    Third, do you not get semiotics? A sign (symbol, word, whatever) can have a completely different significance to the coder and the decoder. One person’s number between 665 and 667 is another person’s prophetic signifier. One person’s svastika is another’s swastika, is another person’s two lines of equal length intersecting each other at 90 degrees at their mid point, the end of each line continuing at a right-angle in the counter-clockwise direction, this extension being somewhat shorter than one quarter of the intersecting lines.

    Yeah, to you it’s silly. To him it actually means something. Zophid from Planet quarg would think the fuss you would kick up if you had to wear a badge with two intersecting lines (or a stylised fish) silly as those symbols would (without research) mean nothing to him. But they would to you.

    Just as your objection to those signs would be due to your perceptions of their religious significance, the meaning these signs had to (some) others, and the fact you could support this objection factually, so to does this guy’s dislike of wearing a 666 stem from his perception of their religious significance, the meaning it had to (some) others… and he can support this factually (even if the scripture he cited was just made up by some guy, it does exist and it has significance to him and others).

    Bash fundies by all means. Immolate the hypocritical ‘godly’. But set yourself higher standards, eh?

  • https://bornagainyesterday.com Justin McKean

    Atheist, me, but I hope this guy wins his lawsuit. Not because I in any way agree with his silly fear of numbers. He should win because his bosses are being assholes.

    The guy has an irrational fear of the number 666. Fine. The sticker isn’t necessary to the job. Don’t make him wear it. Were I his manager, I’d have told him that while I personally felt his fear of numbers was silly, that he could refrain from wearing the number. Then, when anyone asked about it, I’d say, “He’s afraid of numbers.”

    This guy has been brainwashed. Hes indoctrinated, probably from infancy, in a cult that expects everyone to agree with it’s opinions and that holds all dissenting voices as sources of evil in the world.

    I feel bad for the guy. I hope he wins.

  • Meerkat Mama

    No doubt this guy will become a poster-child of the Right, which is ironic given their attitude towards Muslim workers at Target who are allowed to wear gloves when ringing up pork items, allowed to ask other checkers to ring the items up, or transferred to equivalent jobs that don’t include pork products. Read a screed decrying these accommodations as a Muslim assault on a business’ right to ask employees to do their jobs and an attempt to impose Shari’a Law on Americans. Yet the prohibition against touching pork is far more universal than this 666 crap is and is actually found in a part of the Bible the Christians purportedly revere – the Torah – Old Testament – Pentateuch, whatever.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    He’s an idiot, and this lawsuit is gonna be laughed out of court.

  • Mike Stanton

    Will he loose the case? A Law Prof. at UCLA thinks otherwise.
    http://volokh.com/2011/11/18/the-safety-sticker-of-the-beast/
    If plaintiff’s account of the facts is accurate and complete, then he
    ought to win under the law. I discuss the relevant legal regime here,
    but the basic principle is that an employer must give religious
    employees special exemptions from generally applicable job requirements
    if (1) the requirements interfere with an employee’s sincerely felt
    religious obligations and (2) such an exemption doesn’t impose “undue
    hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.” 42 U.S.C. §
    2000e(j); TWA v. Hardison, 432 U.S. 63 (1977). The “undue hardship” standard isn’t hard for the employer to meet — any “more than … de minimis
    cost” to the employer would qualify as an undue hardship. But here the
    only cost was letting plaintiff not wear the sticker for one day,
    something that was highly unlikely to impose any more than de minimis
    cost on the employer. (To be sure, dealing with individual exemption
    requests always involves some cost, just in processing the request and
    deciding whether to grant it, but such a cost obviously isn’t enough to
    warrant denying requests, or else the statutory duty of religious
    accommodation would never be triggered.)
    Indeed, courts have commonly found that employers must give religious
    exemptions from dress code or grooming requirements, unless this would
    interfere with safety or with the public mission of the employer (such
    as a police department that requires uniforms). Thus, for instance, a
    man who feels a religious obligation to wear a beard is generally
    entitled to an exemption from an employer’s no-beard policy, absent some
    evidence that such an exemption would pose an undue hardship on the
    employer. See, e.g., Carter v. Bruce Oakley, Inc., 849 F. Supp. 673 (E.D. Ark. 1993).
    A woman who feels a religious obligation not to wear pants is likewise
    generally entitled to such an exemption, again unless there’s some good
    reason (such as safety) for barring her from wearing a skirt or a
    dress. The same principle should apply to this case.

  • Jlbriggs

    Bottom line: whether his reasons are religious or of any other origin, this is not a firing offense.

    Regardless how irrational his fear of this number is, the company is in the wrong here, any way you look at it.


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